Gatlinburg detective wants Neal Pinkston disqualified from prosecuting his perjury case

Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Press- 2/15/16. Detective Rodney Burns of the Gatlinburg Police Department is questioned as a witness before Judge Robert Philyaw during a preliminary hearing for the Ooltewah High School basketball coaches and the school's athletic director in Hamilton County Juvenile Court on February 25, 2016. Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston charged head coach Andre "Tank" Montgomery, assistant coach Karl Williams and Athletic Director Allard "Jesse" Nayadley with failing to report child abuse or suspected child sexual abuse in connection with the rape of an Ooltewah High School freshman by his basketball teammates Dec. 22, 2015.
photo Hamilton County District Attorney General Neal Pinkston speaks to the press in this file photo.

The Gatlinburg Police Detective charged with perjury in connection with the Ooltewah High School rape case, filed a motion asking that Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston be disqualified from prosecuting the case.

Rodney Burns is charged with two counts of aggravated perjury, a class D felony that carries a sentence between two and four years behind bars, because of his testimony in the case. He is scheduled to appear in Hamilton County Criminal Court Aug. 23 before Judge Tom Greenholtz.

According to a statement from Burns' attorney, Bryan Delius, Pinkston's involvement in the case is a conflict of interest, due to the civil claim Burns previously filed against him.

Burns filed a $300,000 defamation lawsuit against Pinkston in February, after Pinkston asked the TBI to investigate Burns for perjury, following his testimony in Hamilton County Juvenile Court.

In the lawsuit, Burns said he has suffered damage to his reputation, his active cases have been postponed and he has been ridiculed by the public and media outlets.

Delius said in a statement, issued today, that Pinkston refused to voluntarily step aside from the prosecution of Burns' case.

"Unfortunately he declined to take the responsible, ethical course of action," Delius said in the statement. "Instead, we have been forced to file a motion to disqualify General Pinkston and his office."

Pinkston's office did not immediately respond to request for comment Monday afternoon.

TBI's investigation of Burns' testimony found he was "untruthful," said TBI Spokesman Josh Divine.

According to the grand jury indictment, Burns "unlawfully and with intent to deceive" made two false statements under oath during this testimony.

Burns testified in this hearing that "there was no rape or torture, no screams of anguish." But previously he wrote in police reports that someone told him "the victim yelled out in pain" and another person said "he could hear [the victim] yelling when they had attacked," according to the indictment.

The indictment also says Burns didn't testify truthfully when he initially said he called authorities to report the incident on Christmas Eve and no one answered, and then later said it was beyond the parameters of his report to contact these same authorities.

Also during this testimony, Burns referred to the rape of the 15-year-old as "something stupid kids do." He said the perpetrators received no sexual gratification from the act, so he did not consider it a sexual assault.

After being indicted, Burns turned himself in to the Hamilton County Jail and was released on a $2,500 bond in May. An attorney representing Burns appeared before Greenholtz June 10, and entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf.